Showing posts from March, 2011

The Maturation of Matt Frattin

Matt Frattin was a fourth round draft pick, 99th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2007. He was coming off a rookie of the year performance in the Alberta Junior League, scoring 83 points for Fort Saskatchewan. Frattin progressed through his first two years at the University of North Dakota collecting 15 and 25 points. Prior to his third year with the Fighting Sioux Frattin had two run-ins with the law. In July of 2009, he and a friend were arrested for throwing various items from the roof of a house. One month later, just before the school year began, he received a DWI. UND suspended Frattin and he went home to Edmonton to face his parents and friends. He got a job pouring concrete and took advice from family members and friends. He went back to North Dakota in December without his scholarship and had to earn his way back on the hockey team. His teammates, and more importantly his coach saw a change in him and accepted him back into the fold. Frattin scored 11 goals and 19 point…

Henrik Sedin, Assist Consistency & Other Milestones

Last week, Henrik Sedin recorded his 70th assist of the season for the third time in his career. He is only the 16th player to notch 70 helpers at least three times, Gretzky leads with 16 such seasons. Some unexpected guys that never did this are Bobby Clarke, Ron Francis, Steve Yzerman and Joe Thornton. As well it is the fifth consecutive year in which Henrik has tallied at least 60 assists, joining an even more exclusive group. Only 13 players have done this, and only six of them have done it more times than Hank's five straight. Most Consecutive Seasons with at least 60 Assists

Wayne Gretzky, 13

Bobby Orr, 6

Guy Lafleur, 6

Peter Stastny, 6

Bernie Federko, 6

Adam Oates, 6

Joe Thornton, 5

Phil Esposito, 5

Doug Gilmour, 5

Bryan Trottier, 5

Ray Bourque, 5

Paul Coffey, 5

Henrik Sedin, 5
On Monday night, two other milestones were achieved. Teemu Selanne, with his third point of the game and 73rd of the season, assured himself of finishing with at least one point-per-game this year. He is only the…

Hanging with the King

This past Thursday night I played in a four on four tourney called the Pacific Hockey Artists Tournament or PHAT for short. We had six teams of six guys and played each other team in eight minute running time games. All the participants were from the arts community including guys like Craig Northey (The Odds), Dave Ogilve (Skinny Puppy), Brent Belke (SNFU) and Grant Lawrence (The Smugglers & CBC Radio). However, the biggest star we had out was ex-Canuck goaltender "King" Richard Brodeur.

Brodeur is an accomplished painter in his post-playing career and was more than willing to come out and support the local arts/hockey community. The picture is right after I brought The King a pop at the time keeper box where he was watching the action. He was more than appreciative.
I had a chance to chat with him at greater length after the games were done at the post-tournament gathering.

About thirty of us went to a nearby watering-hole to eat, drink and trade stories and verbal jabs.

King James, Felix and the Turk

James Reimer. The kid looks to be for real. If only Burkie brought him up in November instead of January. Now that he has played enough games and qualified for goaltending categories (at least 1/3 of a teams games) Reimer is showing up on the NHL leaderboards. He sits tied with Jonas Hiller for fourth overall in Save Percentage with .925 behind only Tim Thomas, Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo. The number is far and away the best among rookie tenders. His Point Pct. from a 16-7-4 record rank fourth league-wide behind Thomas, Luongo and Michal Neuvirth.

Since the All-Star break "Optimus Reim" is fourth in the NHL in Wins with 12, behind Antti Niemi, Ilya Bryzgalov and Mikka Kiprusoff and his 3 shutouts are only one back of leader Carey Price. Those three white-washings are only two off the Toronto rookie record and the most by a Leaf rookie since Mike Palmateer had four in 76/77. Before that it was the two rookies with five shutouts, Ed Chadwick in 56/57 and Al Rollins in 50/51…

Matt Cooke, An asshole even in beer league hockey.

Matt Cooke comes across as a little prick. I can safely say that most anyone who follows hockey on an even semi-regular basis would share that opinion. I can tell from actual experience that this is the truth. You see, just over six years ago, the one and only Matt Cooke (then of the Vancouver Canucks) played against my squad in a regulation beer league game.

It was January 31, 2005, a Monday night game. A Monday night game at 10:30 no less, at Burnaby, BC's Eight Rinks Facility. I was playing on a team in the third tier of men's hockey, third out of sixteen divisions so not quite elite beer league hockey but better than most. About ten minutes before puck drop, a league official came into our room and asked if we'd be fine with the other team dressing Matt Cooke. I'm not sure if they asked out of common courtesy or what, because anybody can play in that league seeing as it wasn't a playoff game. Even locked out NHL players.

The rink was also the home to the Canucks…

Maple Leaf Gardens, The Beginning

I found these cool shots in an old program. Some great pictures of the building of Maple Leaf Gardens that I had never seen before. It still amazes me that Conn Smythe built this place in six months, during the depression no less. Below is the corner of Church and Carlton Streets before the Gardens took over.

Gump Concussed by a Tossed Egg

44 years ago today, Lorne "Gump" Worsley was knocked out of an NHL game after being hit in the temple with an egg thrown from the stands. It was at Madison Square Garden in New York and Gump had just surrendered the first goal of the game to Jean Ratelle in the third minute.
The Montreal Gazette reported, "The Gumper was hit flush on the right temple by the egg which was thrown from about 100 feet away...the egg-tosser, a 25 year-old fan who had a bag of them when caught by Garden police, got off lucky when Worsley refused to press charges."

The next day Worsley took part in a voluntary practice and it was thought he would be ready if called upon for the next game. Gump described the incident, "It hit me flush on the temple just after the goal was scored. I didn't know it was an egg until I felt the gook. The doctor said it was a mild concussion and I still feel a bit dizzy." The concussion would prove to be somewhat more than mild as the Gump would in…

A Little Saturday Fun

We here at Nitzy's Hockey Den try to be purveyors of hockey research and history.... factual, real history. Today I provide a little fake history as a change of pace.
Over the last year I have been collecting vintage hockey equipment just for fun. I first picked up some TruLine Custom skates. They're an entirely leather boot with about as much ankle support as a wet noodle. The blades are the classic "tube style" and are about an inch longer than my current skates, plus there is no rocker on them. They date to about the early to mid-1960's.
The gloves I got on ebay for $25 and are in fantastic shape. They are made by Cooper-Weeks and have such sophisticated features as "Genuine Cowhide" "Shock Shield" cuffs, "Armourflea Thumb" and "Magic Grip" palm. I believe they date to the late '50s.
The stick is a CCM Senior, plain and simple wood stick from the '60s. It's just about as straight as can be, but it is labelled RI…

Game Report; Feb 17, 1968 Rangers at Maple Leafs

This is the newest addition to the den, and it's terrific cover of Frank Mahovlich puts it right in the centre of my vintage programme display (I like the old fashion spelling of programme). This was from a Saturday night game at Maple Leaf Gardens between two teams battling for the last playoff spot in the East Division.

Entering this match New York held down the fourth and final post-season slot with a record of 25-18-11 for 61 points. Toronto was six points back at 23-22-9. The Rangers were led by the dynamic duo of Rod Gilbert and Jean Ratelle who were each scoring at a point per game pace in a season when only six men would finish at that rate. The Leafs were less than a year removed from their last Cup win (boy that just looks strange in writing), and were still led by the likes of Dave Keon, Johnny Bower and Mahovlich. They would be led in scoring by 23 year old Mike Walton who in his first full season notched 30 goals and 59 points.

Leaf captain George Armstrong opened the …

Bruce Gamble, The Return to Glory in '66

With a career NHL won-lost record of 18-52-11, goaltender Bruce Gamble chose to sit out the 1964/65 hockey season. The reason wasn't so much his own performance, he had after all gone 145-112-28 in the minors since 1958, the reason was Eddie Shore. Gamble would rather not play hockey than play any longer for the tyrannical owner and coach of the AHL's Springfield Indians. Shore suspended him, and Bruce Gamble went home to Thunder Bay, Ont. to work in the local grain elevators.

Toronto Maple Leaf GM and coach rescued Gamble from the clutches of Shore in Sept. 1965 by trading two players to Springfield and a few months later, Gamble re-payed the favour. After injuries to Leaf goalies Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk and fill-ins Gary and Al Smith, Imlach summoned for Gamble from Tulsa of the Central League.

On March 2, 1966 he started against the Canadiens, and stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 3-3 tie. Imlach threw him back in the next night of the home and home set, although he had not m…

Luke Schenn is having a nice season.

One may look at the 16 points and minus 1 rating for Luke Schenn this year and assume he is having a poor season. Nothing could be further from the truth however. For one thing his average ice-time per game of 22:30 is higher than that of more reknowned defensemen Chris Pronger, Tomas Kaberle, Tyler Myers and Bryan McCabe. Perhaps that is a statement of the overall calibre of Toronto's defense brigade, but some other numbers show that Schenn is earning his playing time.

Schenn is first among defenders in Hits with 206, 22 more than second place Brent Seabrook and he sits 7th among D-men in Blocked Shots with 144. When these two categories are combined we get a real nice example of defensive prowess. Schenn is first overall among NHL defensemen in combined Hits and Blocks.

Schenn, Tor 350Girardi, NYR 345Zanon, Minn 305Seabrook, Chi 302Gleason, Car 284Peckham, Edm 283Robidas, Dal 283Weber, Nsh 274Seidenberg,Bos 271Giordano,Calg 269Not alot of big point …

Scrambles, Flicksies and Leaners; The Art of Childhood Hockey Card Collecting

Later this summer I will be reaching a milestone birthday (I was born in '71, you do the math) and I find myself reminiscing more than usual. Recently I was thinking about when I first really took to the sport of hockey, and the things that helped mold the passion I still have for it today.
It pretty much started when I began seriously collecting hockey cards at the age of 8. O-Pee-Chee 1979/80 was my introduction to the hobby and was really the first time in a young boys' life where you are in control of filling your wants and needs (insert joke here). This is a time when if there is a need in your hockey card set you went out and tryed to fill it. Also, you could wield power over others that perhaps coveted something of yours. Wow, getting pretty deep here. OK, back to hockey cards.
Pretty much any quarter that came into my hands back then was quickly run up the street to Mac’s Milk for another pack of cards. My friends and I had so many extra cards that we would hold “Scrambl…

Classic Leaf Photos

I just picked up nice Toronto game program from 1968 that has some nice rare photos inside. Above is a pic of Charlie Conacher handing down his venerable number nine jersey to a young Ted Kennedy. A rare shot of two of hockey's greats.

Below are two shots from the same program of the Leafs of the 1930's out on a fishing/hunting exursion. Pretty cool shots that I hadn't come across before.